Identifier

etd-04032007-145610

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Looking first at Byron’s canon, I trace the evolution of the Byronic heroes offered in his poetry, arguing that these heroes are the culmination of images of the poet as he interacted with and was interpreted by his female reading audience. Working with his readers, Byron fundamentally altered his poetic heroes to suit changing public opinions about himself. In later chapters, I show how this image continued to evolve as the Byronic hero was co-opted, adopted, and adapted in the novels of female authors across the nineteenth century, especially Lady Caroline Lamb in Glenarvon, Emily Brontë in Wuthering Heights, Anne Brontë in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Charlotte Brontë in Jane Eyre, and George Eliot in Daniel Deronda. How female novelists interpreted the Byronic hero as the century wore on was dependent on which images of the poet they had access to including: the real man Byron, the heroes of his poetry, his myth, or some amalgam of the three. All five female novelists demonstrate a measured and typical, though different generational response, offering various levels of imitation, revision, and rejection in their novels. Ultimately, this project shows the enduring legacy and importance of Byron, his myth, and the Byronic hero to “scribbling women” throughout the long nineteenth century.

Date

2007

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Elsie B. Michie

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